Run Daddy, Run!

Running was never something I enjoyed doing. Growing up in Saint Vincent and The Grenadines, my friends and I would walk to the beach about 8 miles away. Sometimes they would break into a run, much to my disappointment. I would reluctantly run along so as not to be alone.

Ironically, I loved athletics. I attended High School Sports meets and enjoyed watching the runners and their elegant strides. Maybe I was just living vicariously through them. I still find the sight of someone running very satisfying. I guess I am a professional armchair athlete.

So what the heck was I doing at the 2021 Manitoba Marathon, waiting in line for the start of my 10k race? How did a guy over 50, who, until less than a year ago, could barely make it past 3 minutes of light jogging without utter discomfort find himself in this position?

Well the pandemic made some of us step out of our comfort zone and attempted things we never thought we would or could do. Running was it for me and I went from couch to 10k, literally.

Getting to the starting line was not without hiccups. Up until the day before race day, I wasn’t sure I would be running. Three weeks prior, I had some discomfort after a practice run that required a visit to the ER and an upcoming CT scan.

I missed the Friday deadline to pick up my race kit and vowed if I couldn’t get it, I would take it as a sign not to run. After searching for over 45 minutes, the volunteer came back with the bad news. We can’t find your kit. No problem I thought, here’s my sign. Don’t worry, here’s a bib for the 5K race, you can use it and it will be fine. Just use a marker and cross out the 5k and change it to 10k. Well this is embarrassing…I accepted it with a feeling of trepidation. Was this still a sign?

So here I was, lined up in the corral like race horse as part of the new normal. Only 5 runners were allowed to leave the gate and at a time and my friend Janice, who I had encouraged to register for this run, was in the row in front of me.

I started slowly as Janice and I planned on doing. I watched my heart rate and paced myself accordingly. One discomfort and I was calling it quits! Janice slowed to a walk around the 5k mark but I was feeling the run, so kept walking. I meant running.My pace was allowing me to talk to fellow runners, take photos and have fun. Heck, was this even considered running?

There was a 70-something guy hobbling ahead of me and I vowed that if there was one runner I needed to pass to have some form of dignity, he was the one, the chosen one. So with a dip into my reserve tank, I blew past him! Ok, maybe not really blew but more like eked, or limped, but whatever, the old guy was done! See ya later old timer!

My mind was saying, hey buddy, no shame in your game if you walk a little bit. I almost listened too! But the volunteers, with the big smiles on their faces, encouraging me on, made it difficult to slow down or walk.How embarrassing would that be?They even looked me in the eye and said I was doing great! They wouldn’t lie would they? Plus, I could hear my mom’s voice saying, just keep running, running, running… So I pushed/soldiered on. Why does mom sound like a fish though? Janice was still in my rear view mirror, so I know she was fine.

As I pulled up alongside the runners who were taking running breaks to walk for a bit, or did they pull up to me, I eavesdropped on their conversations. Someone had a sign that said, you are running better than the government! Was I really?? Another had one telling us to dig deep like a kid digging for boogers. Eww! People are so creative.

This was fun! As I ran past a walking runner, I let him know that I would normally go faster but was staying within the speed limit. He chuckled and mentioned something about my socks. You also don’t want to squish those hotdogs! that’s what he said. I nicely pointed out that my socks had burgers on them, not hotdogs and also reminded him that it was Le Burger Week.

At the 8k mark,(no way I was walking now!). A grandmother pulled up alongside and asked where my running partner was. I told her Janice had taken a walk break so we got split up. We chatted about pace and heart rate and I added that I was saving myself for the big kick at the end. She seemed terrified. Or doubtful. She soon got bored of talking and trying to match my snail’s pace and said her goodbyes. I will see you at the finish line, good luck! and with that that she was gone, disappearing into the pack running ahead.

One kilometer to go! Woo hoo! For a minute I thought I would need to assist the guy beside me, he would run for 30 seconds, stop, puffed panted and groaned then run again. You are doing great! Keep it up! I said, using words I learned from the volunteers. He ignored me and kept his ritual. Maybe it was a thing experienced runners do, I should try it next year.

One the home stretch, I could see my own personal cheerleaders, my wife, my boys and Snoop our goldendoodle. Go daddy, go! You got this! That was all the motivation that I needed! With a burst of adrenaline I lifted my feet an inch higher and sprinted towards the finish looming finish line, hoping all eyes were on me with my strong finishing kick. Did it!

I took the gleaming medal from the volunteer and looked for a spot to puke but thankfully, I didn’t need to. I was fine! I had completed my first 10k run without walking!

What was my time? Who cares? It’s not always about winning!

We did it Janice!
The waiting party

Man of the hour

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